Did you know there are about 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which can be found in your gut? These bacteria make up your gut microbiome and contribute to the way your digestive system – and other bodily organs and systems – function.
The microbiome relies on a careful balance of different types of bacteria. If this balance breaks down, it can lead to numerous health problems. Here are some tips to improve your gut microbiome.
- Eat your vegetables and fruit
Vegetables and fruit are some of the best sources of nutrients to feed your microbiome. They are high in fiber and can help stimulate growth of the good bacteria in your gut. Focus on eating foods such as broccoli, green peas, artichokes, berries, apples and bananas.
- Limit sugar and processed foods
Eating too much sugar and processed foods can alter the gut microbiome and cause it to develop greater levels of destructive, unhealthy bacteria. For the healthiest gut microbiome, aim to eat a diet that is composed mainly of whole foods such as fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
- Get enough probiotics
Probiotics can help restore your microbiome to a healthier state as well as improve the way your gut bacteria functions. To increase your probiotics intake, focus on eating fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi.
- Focus on eating foods with prebiotics
Prebiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Healthy bacteria break down the fiber and complex carbs in these foods to use as fuel. Prebiotics can be found in foods including leafy greens, onions, whole grains, apples, asparagus and mushrooms.
- Limit antibiotics
Antibiotics are a powerful tool in medicine. However, they can unintentionally kill off the good bacteria in your gut. When using antibiotics, mitigate side effects by increasing your intake of probiotics.
- Cut back on red meat
Eating large amounts of red meat can lower the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut and potentially lead to inflammation. Cutting back even just a few servings of red meat each week can make a difference in improving your gut health. Instead of red meat, consider poultry, fish or eggs.
- Get enough rest
Research increasingly shows that gut health impacts sleep – and vice versa. Increased microbiome diversity has been shown to correlate with longer sleep times and better sleep efficiency. On the flip side, lack of sleep can lead to poorer food choices, which can negatively affect your gut microbiome. For optimal gut health, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
- Get enough physical activity
Working up a sweat is a great way to boost your gut microbiome. Studies show regular exercise can increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.
- Lower stress levels
Over time, the physiological changes that come with stress can negatively alter the gut microbiome. To keep stress levels in check, avoid overscheduling yourself, take time for yourself each day, connect with others, practice yoga or try meditation.
- How NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health Can Help
NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health is committed to helping people improve their digestive health. To learn more, visit us online or call 331-221-9003.
- Eat your vegetables and fruit